First-Line Managers as Change Agents
On Friday 22 October 2021 Silje Rydland Skaar will hold a trial lecture on a prescribed topic and defend her thesis for the PhD degree at NHH.
Prescribed topic for the trial lecture:
The role of collectives in change
10.15 NHH AUD M
Title of the thesis:
First-Line Managers as Change Agents in the Implementation of Planned Change
Organizational change is a vibrant theme in modern organizations. Multiple forces lead businesses to undergo change, and the pace of change is increasing. Yet, the failure rates are reported as high. How managers take on change agency and mobilize others can be decisive to how change unfolds.
Previous research has studied top- and middle managers as central change agents in organizations. Silje Rydland Skaar explores how first-line managers
---who operate in the operational core ---take on change agency and contribute to the implementation of planned change. The topic is examined in three empirical articles, based on a case study of change in a Scandinavian energy company.
The first article explores how first-line managers take on change agency for changes that high-level managers initiate and that cause employee resistance. The study shows that first-line managers mobilize support from their superiors and peers, and different types of perceived distance shape who the first-line managers lean on. The second article (co-authored with Inger Stensaker) investigates how middle- and first-line managers handle superiors’ expectations on them to adopt a new strategic work role. The study identifies three distinct response patterns, and distinguishes structural levels and within-level variability, which imply development of differential capacity to assume a strategic work role. The third article studies change implementation over time in four business units, and shows a central role of first-line managers in boosting momentum for change after long-term waning energy. The first-line managers enable change through visualization and the development of new meanings.
Overall, the research offers new insights on first-line managers’ change agency from different angles, which contributes to theory and practice on the management of planned change in organizations.
12.15 NHH AUD M
Members of the evaluation committee:
Professor Vidar Schei (chair of the committee), Department of strategy and management, NHH
Professor Chair Ragnhild Kvålshaugen, Department of strategy and entrepreneurship, BI
Professor Karen Jansen, Henley Business School
Professor Inger G. Stensaker (main supervisor), Department of strategy and management, NHH
Associate Professor Therese E. Sverdrup, Department of strategy and management, NHH
Professor Quy N. Huy, INSEAD
The trial lecture and thesis defence will be open to the public.